Archive for December, 2015

The enemies of fat burning

Posted: December 18, 2015 in Fat Burning, fitness
Tags: , ,

Quick post today, just a couple things I find to be universal problems I have to overcome when getting lean

1. Impatience

Impatience is a dangerous mind set that seeks the quick and easy path, the “I want it al now, for nothing” philosophy. This leads to one of two things, either dangerous shortcuts (like drugs) or this…

2. Discouragement

When we don’t see instant results it is natural to become discouraged. To progress we must first be a way to overcome it.

Two ways to overcome these:

1. Adopt the attitude “I must” for everything important in your life.

Instead of saying you “should” or “want to” do something, when you program it into your mind as a “must” you are creating an attitude that will be effective and long-lasting.

2. Follow the model: create a plan, stick with the plan and adapt as needed.

This model requires spending enough time with a plan to measure it and then with that information you can tweak and hone it.

As a kid I loved Tarzan, even though my main source of exposure was audio stories on vinal – which were recorded versions of the 1966 show starring Ron Ely. When Casper Van Dien played the role in the 1998 I wanted so badly to love it despite it being pretty awful.

Now a new version is coming out starring Alexander Skarsgard (and my mistress-to-be Margot Robbie) and if you’ve seen the trailers for The Legend of Tarzan – whether you think it looks visually stunning or narratively stupid, no one can deny that the dude is peeled!

Skarsgård’s physique is either inspirational to those who enjoy getting fit or maddening to those who don’t know how to. Before I get into some specifics on how to train and eat for this let me point something that the cinema hides: people “peak” for very short periods of time.

A perfect example of this is the movie Man of Steel where the production schedule was coordinated with Henry Cavil’s trainer to get him to peak for the one shirtless scene.

Fitness models and bodybuilders have the same challenge, to get into their peak condition for stage time. 

So it is an unrealistic expectation to think anyone walks around like this 24:7, but working towards this type of shape we can certainly stand apart from the crowd.

Alexander is tall and lanky, which leads me to suspect he is a stereotypical ectomorph. While he was fit before this film, his challenge was probably putting on muscle more than it was getting lean.

Because of this his specific training was probably hypertrophy-based. There are bound to be magazines popping up with “Tarzan training” designed as all-in-one programs, but while such stories (strong emphasis on the word “stories”) may be entertaining they are not likely to be practical for most people.

For most people on the earth what I’m about to suggest will get you much closer. It’s a 2-phase regime, first getting buff and leans and then getting scorched.


In phase 1 we need to lay the foundation and get into great shape. This requires dedication and mental resilience. It’s about building and toning muscle while dramatically singeing body fat.

I’ve had a number of “false starts” through the years so here are the ways I’ve found to overcome those…

Probably the most important is a shift in mindset. I will say this again but the most powerful mental switch you can make is changing “I want” or “I should” into “I must”. This has helped me in every aspect of my life.

With a new-found commitment to getting into ridiculous shape, here’s how to begin phase 1:

Day 1: gorge! Shop! Read! Goals! Spend $!

The day 1 feast is as vital as it is enjoyable. If you have been a yo-yo dieter in the past there’s a good chance your metabolism is slowed down so this will help kick start your engine. It is also a good way to remind yourself that junk food is not as good as your brain wants you to think. Mentally it tells you that this journey is about enjoyment and pride, not self deprivation.

Make sure to stock up on healthy food that you will be using to fuel your transformation.

Read and/or re-read good material to help inspire you and remind you of key principles. Suggestions are “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” by Tom Venuto, or check out “SuperHero Physique” which was designed to be motivational as well as educational. Even “Body-For-Life” has a few good nuggets. You can always click on my Fat Burning blogs for tons of material.

Set your goals. What I suggest initially is to take your current measuring stick and use that. For example if you just think you look out of shape something like “I must get a six pack” – write it down because we’re going to come back to it.

Spend a little money. Invest in yourself. This could mean buying a treat at the supplement shop, ordering a fitness book, etc, it really doesn’t matter. The fact that you are putting cash into this tells your mind that you are commuted and stand to lose if you don’t see it through.
Day 2: Measure! Refine goals! train favorite part! Log your food!

Begin day two by measuring your weight and body composition. Also take a picture. This is not fun but remind yourself that this is going to be the worst measurements and it’s only going to get better from here on.

Using your measurements refine your written goal. For example having a six pack might now mean burning 30 lbs of fat. As a measurable amount you can now track your progress.

Start of your training program with your favorite body part/parts. For example I generally begin with chest and biceps or shoulders. Make sure to log your training (I use the free app Pump-N-Log). I’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the actual training shortly…

Begin the habit of logging what you eat. As with training I’ll get into the details shortly but the most important thing you can do is log your food with either an app, a book (such as Buffer’s training and diet log) or a spreadsheet.

Day 7: measure and adjust

Take your measurements again after a week. Pictures are usually best every two weeks. Based on your results make adjustments to your diet. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged. Tell yourself “I must see this through”. There are bound to be ups and downs along the way, so use this as a tool not an excuse to quit.

This phase is a typical program I run for 6-12 weeks.


Simply put, the best training here is a 3-4 day split using a rep-range of 8-12 to failure.

Here is a good example of such a workout:

Day 1 – chest & biceps

  • Barbell Bench press – 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Incline dumbbell press – 4×8
  • Ez bar curls (wrists supinated) – 4×8
  • Cable crossovers – 3×10
  • Alternating dumbbell curls – 3×10

Finish with 10-20 minutes of cardio.

Day 2 – back & hams

  • Straight-arm pull downs – 4×10 (plus drops after last set)
  • Lying leg curl – 6×6 (partials after each set)
  • Barbell or cable rows – 4×8
  • Stiff-leg deadlift – 3×10,8,6

Finish with HIIT cardio

Day 3 – Quads & Calves

  • Barbell squats – 8×8
  • Leg extension 3×12
  • Seated calf raises 100 reps in as short a time as possible 

10-20 min cardio

Day 4 – delts and triceps

  • 3-way delts raise – 3×10
  • Cable press down – 4×8
  • Seated barbell military press 3×6 – super set with
  • Dumbbell laterals – 3×8
  • Overhead dumbell triceps extensions – 3×10
  • Rear delt bent dumbbell laterals – 3×10 superset with
  • Dumbbell upright rows – 3×8

HIIT cardio.

What to eat is a huge thing here. The main thing is to eat enough good food to keep you metabolism running well.

The most effective strategy still is to follow these guidelines:

  • Keep calories around 85% of maintenance for 3 days then have one re-feed day every forth day at about 110%
  • Have 6 meals per day ensuring protein with each meal
  • Drink a cup of water every waking hour
  • Keep carbs clean; avoid carbs pre-workout and first thing in the morning
  • Include omega-3 fat sources
  • Have lots of vegetables

PHASE 1 supplements:

The main purpose of sups here is to fill in gaps of your diet. So protein powder, greens powder, multivitamins and omega 3 fish oil are awesome for this.

Despite the speculation around whether krill oil is worth the added cost I’m a huge advocate of it. I’ve found it significantly helps with inflammation in my shoulders and absolutely no fish burps unlike other fish oils. I also suspect that it is superior for insulin sensitivity based on my personal resultsof lowering belly fat but I have no concrete evidence to support that at this time.

Since this article is getting a tad long I’m going to give you Phase 2 or “the grand finale” in my next post. Phase 2 is where we will go from a great physiqu to an “elite” physique!

PHASE 2 – coming soon


Super Hero Physique

Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older or maybe it’s a shift in my mindset, but since getting a nasty shoulder injury my ability to train slowed to a crawl and time that used to be spent at the gym became filled with other activities and projects.

So now that my shoulder is getting better and I want to get back into shape, the challenge is becoming trying to continue those projects while increasing the time given to physical activity.

That is not as simple as it may sound because I have always been an “all or nothing” person.

And then a light-bulb went off and lady inspiration blessed me with a fantastic idea: create a personal reward system where fitness achievements and activities are rewarded by allowing myself to do the other projects.

Step 1 in this process was to see where I am physically and determine where I WANT to be.

In “Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle” Tom Venuto points out that the reason the majority of fitness programs fail from the the outset is that there is no defined goals programmed into your subconscious – making this a key to re-igniting the passion to get fit.

Step 2 was to make a list of all of the non-fitness-related projects I wanted to work on, and everything that was holding me back (in my mind) from dedicating the needed time to fitness.

Step 3 was to pair those with various accomplishments or simply activities that would earn the permission to do these tasks.

Additionally I made a list of non-healthy foods I live and made heathy, delicious substitutions.

One of the challenges when beginning a new regimen is sticking to the plan, so I was hesitant to post this without having seen it all the way through. My hope is that by combining multiple passions and making them work together I will overcome the hurdle of “perseverance”.